RPA : 5 questions to speed up your digital transformation with RPA

April 1, 2020

By Thomas Defontaine

Through this article, Thomas Defontaine, Innovation Solution Manager RPA/BA at ADNEOM in Paris focuses on a specific aspect of the Content & Process Automation expertise: RPA or Robotic Process Automation and explains how to accelerate the Robotization of your organization.

5 questions to ask yourself to quick-start your digital transformation with RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

Societal, economic and health crisis, such as the one we are currently experiencing, remind us the importance of accelerating digital transformation so that, in the future, the company can operate at full capacity in all circumstances and limit its overall losses.

One of the most effective solutions currently available to accelerate this transformation is the automation of processes that are essential to business life, but how can this be achieved? How can we explain that the containment imposed on companies and its various problems have such an heavy impact on the support functions that can only rely on very limited automation to support the excess workload?

The RPA solution is the tool capable of boosting the impact of robotics in companies, and ADNEOM answers 5 essential questions to be asked in order to succeed in quickly launching a large scale RPA project.

Who carries the project of an RPA Factory and ensures the follow-up of the project within the organization?

The question arose very quickly because of the particular nature of this technology: not only does process robotization directly affect the processes at the heart of the company and the different business departments, but its development in low-code makes the boundaries between functional and technical rather blurred. If the first answer we would like to give tends to emphasise the importance of these business units, projects often come up against a different reality.

CIOs’ remain the main interlocutors for integrators, and their central position ensures that sufficient information and issues are gathered not within a single business unit, but across all divisions of a structure. Moreover, the organization of a company often favors technological decision-making within the ISD. This aspect therefore forces us to consider the main driving force behind factories projects as being, de facto, the CIOs of large organizations.

An example to illustrate this?

The pharmaceutical sector is particularly concerned by legal and health protection measures, and pharmacovigilance therefore represents a significant part of its activity. Continuous monitoring of the side effects of medicines developed by companies in this sector is therefore the subject of a massive investment in time and resources, with huge reporting and statistical analysis requirements.

However, in some large companies, pharmacovigilance is managed as a branch in its own right, with its own ISD and its own business divisions. Above this “local” department, the central ISD oversees the activities of the various sector ISDs.

Who, then, is the right person to bring the subject to the fore? It is often envisaged that the impetus will come from the sector CIO, who, being closer to the business divisions, will be in a position to identify and rapidly create a development structure around the RPA.

However, without the contribution of the business lines to identify and analyze potential robotization cases, and without the political green light from the central IT department, it will be difficult to hope to see the creation of an RPA factory in the short or medium term.

When can the positive return of a POC RPA be estimated, and can a phase of exploration be transformed into a phase of industrialization?

Timing is essential when deploying an RPA project, and moving from a prospective phase to an industrialization phase. It is generally when two or three processes have been successfully automated and launched into production that the question arises: How can the project evolve into a coherent whole, both in terms of resources invested and temporal continuity?

Clearly defining the objectives of the first robots with precise gains is an essential basis. If your first robot is late in terms of development, it may well be a period to start a team on a brand-new issue, a time to adapt and change. What counts above all is the gross gain of this first robotic assistant.

Once these initial objectives have been achieved, we can begin to seriously consider the deployment of robotic industrialization. Indeed, once the first processes have been robotized and launched into production, it is time to reanalyze the ability of the trades to provide the factory with enough processes to be robotized, so that it never runs empty.

Where to go strategically with your RPA factory project?

That’s the problem with an operational project: having your nose in the handlebars, and losing sight of the big picture! RPA cannot be considered as small independent, one-shot projects, once the prospective phase is over. Large, successful RPA projects fulfil a much broader function within an organisation.

For example, some companies may have to undergo a significant downsizing in order to stay in business, as part of social plans. In addition to the financial and human pain of those who leave, there is the added burden of a constant workload for those who remain. And in this context, an RPA project can relieve employees of a number of repetitive tasks with low added value.

In another context, RPA can free up time for employees to devote themselves to their core business, whether it be commercial, legal or accounting…

The only constant is to succeed in creating with the stakeholders an overall strategy in which to introduce RPA, in order to ensure a rapid acceleration of the project and a direction for your future RPA factory.

How to manage your communication efficiently around process robotization?

Robotization carries a strong collective imagination, and with it its share of fears for employees. A strong resistance to change can slow down the implementation of RPA in your company, and it is necessary to understand these fears to involve the trades in the success of your RPA factory.

The first and most legitimate of these fears is about job replacement. These robots are, and remain, robotic assistants. Not only are they there to facilitate and accelerate the work of employees, but it is necessary to involve the trades in the development of THEIR robotic assistant. Their support is essential and must be required from the very beginning of the project.

A strong evangelization approach must be offered by the ISD carrying the RPA project, in order to be able to quickly make all the directions adhere to the capacity of the RPA to meet their needs. Without this facilitator position, even temporary, it will be complicated once the factory is launched to bring back a sufficient workload to feed the ROI.

What should be done if the POC does not provide the expected results?

Many companies have had to test this solution on two, three or four processes before finding an approach to develop the POC. Abandoning the project altogether would only delay the deadline and cause a significant loss of investment. Instead, ask yourself the right questions:

Did I use the right software for my needs? Many publishers are present on the market today and, if they tend to propose the same philosophy, differentiators exist.

Have I overestimated my RPA maturity? Wanting to touch artificial intelligence before even trying to develop simpler, but equally beneficial robots, wastes time and gives the illusion of the complexity of this type of project.

Have I invested enough in my RPA project? Be careful not to underestimate the necessary investment between POC and industrialization. If some editors provide an ideal test solution to develop first robots, the licenses, team training and integration has a cost. This cost is well worth the return on investment, but to be ill-prepared, to fall behind in the deployment of its center, and to be disappointed with a distorted and disappointing ROI.

The RPA represents a decisive opportunity to rethink the way we conceive business, especially business in exceptional circumstances. These same circumstances are the perfect opportunity to take the necessary time to develop our strategy regarding robotization, and far from being an exhaustive list, it is essential to ask ourselves the right questions in order to build the RPA 2.0 ecosystem faster. It is on these answers that we can work together, within ADNEOM and the Positive Thinking Ecosystem.

Thomas Defontaine, Innovation Solution Manager RPA/BA at ADNEOM in Paris.

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This post was written by Marine Herve